Thinking about replacing AppleTV with MacMini

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by keiths, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. keiths macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2007
    I've been thinking really hard lately about replacing the AppleTV with the MacMini. I am going to use it to watch movies, tv shows and occasionally use the internet. I have a few concerns and questions about doing this.

    My first question is which MacMini should I get? Is there one that would be better? I'm looking into getting a refurbished one. How much RAM do I need? I'm not worried about the hard drive space because I will be using an external 1TB for most movies. The main difference between the 2 MacMinis is RAM, HD and video card memory. Would the video card memory help at all for a media center?

    I noticed the MacMini has a MiniDVI and a Mini DisplayPort. Is there a benefit in using one over the other? And it looks like the only audio out is a 1/8 audio jack correct?

    Does anyone know if the PS3 keyboard works on Macs? I was thinking about using that with the MacMini -

    Is there any other negatives in using a MacMini as a media center?
  2. frankiepdx macrumors regular


    Dec 28, 2007
    Portland OR

    If you have the money, go for the new MM with 2 gigs of RAM. Apple TV did me very well while I saved up the money for a mini. Using it now with Plex and ElGato. Hulu for mac is out also. Not to mention so many other options. I guess maybe you should continue this in the Mac Mini forum. Enjoy!
  3. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    the audio jack will also do optical using a mini-toslink cable. I use VLC to play my movies, and movies with both Dolby Digital and DTS encoded audio will play on the stereo. apple's DVD player also supports digital out. you may have to change a setting to get the proper output, i believe they both default to a downmixed signal.

    check into remote buddy, greatly increases the usefulness of the apple remote, plus you can use a wii-mote, (connects through bluetooth). The program will let you map the buttons to key presses in any application. also has an onscreen keyboard included.

    the new hulu desktop application is great, although still a little buggy (it is still in beta), but they seem to update every week or so, and i've seen great improvement in the past few weeks since it was relased.
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    FWIW, I've used an over-three-year old mini Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo) 1.6 GHz mini with 1GB of RAM as a multimedia system. It works great. No issues at all.

    Therefore, I'd argue that you cannot possibly buy a mini that won't work well. Get whatever you feel comfortable getting, but know that you cannot go wrong from an AppleTV-replacement point of view.
  5. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2006
    I purchased the refurb early 09 base system and while I was waiting for that Newegg shipped me 4gb of ram and a 500gb drive. The total cost was still less than that of a refurb w/2gb of ram and a 320 gb drive.

    Do yourself a favour and upgrade it yourself - it's not that hard.

    I bought a mini-display to HDMI adapter but it didn't work so I ended up using the mini DVI instead. Makes no difference - they're both digital outputs. The 1/8th output will indeed output an optical signal if you plug a mini-toslink into it.

    Enjoy yours - I plan on using my :apple:tv in the bedroom when there's a TV worthy of attaching it to!
  6. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    This is the only significant limitation of the Mini. I have a TV and DD/DTS receiver, so I used the Apple TV with that setup. My other setup is a projector with a DD/DTS receiver and that's what I used for my Mini (prior to building my hackintosh HTPC).

    Just use Plex.
  7. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    Doesn't the mini optical (or whatever it's called - the stereo/optical combo jack) out on the mini mean that you can have full 5.1 DD/DTS out?

    -If not, that is a total show stopper for me (who also wants to replace my ATV with a more versatile HTPC)
  8. Truffy macrumors 6502a


    May 9, 2005
    somewhere outside your window...
    What's wrong with the AppleTV that it needs replacing with a Mini? It's just that I'm thinking of the TV but don't want to buy a loser.
  9. Thomss macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2008
    Yes, the Mini does send Dolby Digital & DTS perfectly fine, I have an Appletv and a 2009 Mini, I've only had the mini abour 2 weeks now, but love it! fantastic system.
  10. AC Rempt macrumors 6502

    AC Rempt

    Feb 24, 2008
    I'm seriously thinking about replacing my AppleTV with a Mini for several reason, the primary ones being Hulu Desktop and being able to use the Mini as a DVR via EL Gato's hardware and EyeTV3.

    Hulu is a good way to catch up on some missed TV for free (so far), and the new Desktop app makes it even better.

    I've been using EyeTV with an iMac in my bedroom. It works just fine and saves me from paying Cox even more money each month to rent their DVR. I figure the Mini will pay for itself pretty quickly.

    If ATV good do either of these, it probably wouldn't be going on eBay soon.
  11. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    Thanks, Phew! Got all worried there! I guess I'll be getting a mini soon then.

    The ATV is nice, and I like it, there's just so much annoyance associated with it if you use it to anything but renting/buying through iTunes. It keeps dropping out of iTunes, and try to stream movies with embedded .srt subtitles (it will freeze every few seconds).
    I just installed Plex on my MBP and was really impressed. This is going on my future mini which along with a harmony remote will be the core in the media center.
  12. keiths thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2007
    I want to replace the AppleTV with a MacMini because the MacMini is much more versatile. In order to get the AppleTV to do many of the things I want to do (external HD, hulu, multiple video formats), I have to do a ton of hacks and it still doesn't all work right. With a MacMini, everything I want to do will just work.
  13. heyadol macrumors member

    Feb 21, 2004
    I've been wanting to do the same since the AppleTV is limited (but still great). My only problem is I already have 5 computers linked to my iTunes account (family members included) and that is the limit. I guess I could leave the AppleTV connected as well but I'm out of HDMI ports and don't really want a switch...
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Yes (actually up to 7.1), but the Mini only has one audio-out port, while the Apple TV has three. So if you have two devices (e.g., TV and receiver) then you have a bit of a problem with the Mini.
  15. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    I see your point, I guess I never considered routing the audio to both the receiver and the TV.
    Can you not get a USB-thingy that can output digital audio as well? Then a mini would have two audio out!
  16. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    I have the Logitech Harmony One now. It simply is fantastic!
    Just one remote to control my TV, Mac mini with Plex, HUMAX Set Top Box, 40 Bravia and Sony AV Control Centre!!
    All sound to my Magnat Needle 5.1 set :cool:
  17. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I agree. I have tried using a splitter, (actually 3 different types), from the audio-out port without much success.

    I'm going to keep looking though; can anyone recommend a product?

    No big deal, just have mini set up to receiver which sounds great, but I'd rater have the option for just using the TV, esp when just watching youtube docs etc.

    Mini is great though - I went for 2.0GHz/4GB/120GB + external HDDs (media + TM).
  18. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    Funny. I'm thinking of replacing my mini with an Apple TV.

    I have a 1.25 GHz G4 mini and it's frustrating in my AV system. It seems very sluggish to respond and the fan kicks on and runs full on at the slightest provocation it seems.

    Is the 1.25 GHz G4 mini just too underpowered to serve well in an AV system or is there something else wrong that mine is so sluggish (it has 1 gig of RAM)?
  19. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    It's the G4...
  20. the2j macrumors member


    Oct 24, 2008
    Davis, CA
    I did the same thing you are talking about and haven't looked back !

    plex is sweet and it is SO nice to be able to play 1080p content on my 42"plasma

    I went with the base model and dropped in a 320 gig HDD and 2gig of ram for additional 60 bucks.

    go with mini dvi to hdmi to avoid the stupid drm problems with mdp

    apple tv is cool but the mini setup feels a lot more complete

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